How To Safely Introduce Equity Conversations In Your Classroom
By Paul Haluszczak
This week, superintendents from across the country will be gathering in Nashville for AASA’s national conference. The theme? Leading for student-centered, equity-focused education.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a steady drumbeat of revelations by those who are in positions of power to accelerate meaningful change. When formal education couldn’t be siloed inside a single school building, the inequities children face in their everyday lives were illuminated brighter than ever before.
Before the pandemic began, 42% of households had limited technology access. By fall of 2020, that number was reduced to 31%—an improvement no doubt, but still an unacceptable figure if we are interested in ensuring every learner, no matter their background or circumstances, is provided a high-quality education experience.
Of course, inequitable access to technology isn’t the only challenge we have been called to quickly resolve.
Many have spoken about the past two years as a “twin pandemic”—one related to COVID-19 and the other related to racial injustice.
The very same day a national emergency was declared by then President Donald Trump for COVID-19, Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police officers issuing a no-knock warrant. Two months later, the world witnessed the murder of George Floyd. Less than one month later came Rayshard Brooks. Two months after that, Jacob Blake.
As the majority of the country worked and learned from home, we were able to easily turn our attention to the latest news story—bringing renewed energy to a fight for racial justice that has been filling history books for centuries.
What these highly publicized events made abundantly clear is that what happens out in our communities impacts how our young people show up and engage in our classrooms. That impact deserves to be acknowledged and given space for discussion and reflection.
On February 7th, in partnership with Dr. Eddie Moore, Founder of The Privilege Institute, Thrively released the first-of-its-kind 21-Day Equity Challenge for young learners.
Start Your 21-Day Equity Challenge Today
In just 10 minutes per day, K-12 teachers can engage learners in honest and safe conversations about justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Best of all, it meets everyone where they are.
If an open-floor conversation about these hard but necessary topics is too big of a leap (for learners or adults), all reflections can be shared between each individual learner and their teacher without any of their peers entering the conversation.
Similar to how learners can engage in daily well-being check-ins through our Well-Being Index, they can learn how to explore complex and emotional topics one-on-one with their educators before taking the leap to group conversations.
Imagine if these conversations were happening in every classroom in your school and in every school in your district? What impact might that have in developing the empathy, acceptance of difference, and strong sense of community we know every healthy learning environment must have?
Now is the time to move beyond the paralysis that can often hit us when faced with racial equity challenges. When superintendents return from Nashville around February 20th, they will be primed and ready to take action.
What better way to showcase your own leadership by sharing the 21-Day Equity Challenge with them as a way for everyone (adults and young people) to take meaningful action toward creating an equitable learning environment in your community.